Pro Wrestling NOAH hits us with the early and late show double header!
Given the fact that Japan is like a half a day ahead of me, it’s easier to just condense this into one post since I’ll be watching it all together anyway.
We could see the field close up pretty well. I doubt Sugiura will run away with the tournament, so you’ve got to think there will be a few upsets and great drama for the future.
Let’s find out what happened!
- B Block: Yoshiki Inamura vs Kenoh: Kenoh wins via Knockout @10:26 – ** ½
- A Block: Masa Kitamiya vs Kazushi Sakuraba: Sakuraba wins via Knee Bar @2:29 – ***
- B Block: Shuhei Taniguchi vs Katsuhiko Nakajima: Taniguchi wins via Punt Kick @14:42 – ****
- A Block: Manabu Soya vs Kaito Kiyomiya: Kaito wins via Tiger Suplex Hold @21:55 – *** ¾
- B Block: Naomichi Marufuji vs Kenoh: Kenoh wins via Rear Naked Choke @15:05 – ****
- A Block: Kazushi Sakuraba vs Kaito Kiyomiya: Kaito wins via Figure Four @9:47 – ***
- B Block: Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Takashi Sugiura: Nakajima wins via Vertical Spike @17:42 – *** ¾
- A Block: Go Shiozaki vs Masaaki Mochizuki: Mochizuki wins via Dragon Suplex Hold @16:21 – **** ¼
9.23 DAY Results:
B Block: Yoshiki Inamura vs Kenoh
More inter faction fighting for KONGO. I mean that happens when half of the people in the tournament are in your stable. Inamura is still young, so this is a learning experience for him. Kenoh as the leader of KONGO, needs this win to stay in the thick of the block standings, and also not to lose to the youngest member of the group.
This match felt like the stereotypical “letting your little brother stick around in a game, until you get too lax and then have to try”. Early on Inamura was getting some momentum going with Shoulder Tackles and just generally powering through Kenoh’s attempts at offense. But once he went for the Diving Shoulder Tackle, Kenoh side steps and connects a Roundhouse Kick right to his chest, in midair.
That move lead to an onslaught of Kenoh softening up the midsection of Inamura with Double Knees and Sole Butt attacks. If you’ve ever had someone jump off a porch step and land knees first into your chest, then you know how Inamura felt.
Kenoh displays his tough love that he used on Kaito and seems to be implementing here were Inamura as well. Allowing him to get up, club him, and then respond with a swift Sole Butt to the stomach. This serves only to fire up Inamura, so when Kenoh runs to the ropes, Inamura catches him for a release Belly to Belly. At this point, Kenoh realizes he let the younger wrestler stick around too long. So he slips the Running Powerslam attempt, and starts lighting him up with strikes. As Inamura tries to absorb them and fight through, a few Shoteis land flush on the chin, and the tiny tank falls back onto the mat, and the referee calls for the bell.
A Block: Masa Kitamiya vs Kazushi Sakuraba
Both men are 1-1, so this is a match with a lot of weight. Sakuraba starts off the match, again proving the 200 IQ wrestling ability as he goes after Kitamiya’s injured knee. We saw in his last match against Kaito Kiyomiya, the knee came up a little lame, but Kitamiya powered through. Here we see Sakuraba attack it with a flurry of low kicks, just prodding for an opening and to inflict irritating damage on the banged up knee.
Kitamiya drives his shoulder into Sakuraba, but Sakuraba takes the chance to try the Sakuraba Lock. Kitamiya gets to the ropes, and then we get a struggle. Sakuraba looks for a few ways to take down Kitamiya, first with a Sleeper, but Kitamiya falls back into the corner to break it and lands a Senton for a near fall. Then Sakuraba tries to drive down the bigger man with an Arm Bar, Kitamiya blocks, but Sakuraba picks the ankle and locks in a Knee Bar on the bad knee. Kitamiya taps out almost immediately. Very smart wrestling.
B Block: Shuhei Taniguchi vs Katsuhiko Nakajima
Nakajima is vicious to start this match. A few quick kicks and then a Punt to the head send Taniguchi to the floor early. Around 14 on the count, it doesn’t look like Taniguchi will respond, so Nakajima goes to get him, he’s not done playing. In what ends up being very safe exchanges (incase Taniguchi was really hurt), Nakajima posts him in the corner, a few elbows, sweeps the leg, then does his Corner Foot Choke Pose a few times to each side.
In either a feat of great selling, or still not 100% back yet, Nakajima goes to Irish Whip Taniguchi, but he falls, Nakajima hits the rope, and Taniguchi looks to try a Power Slam, but eats a Running Boot. Nakajima hits the ropes again, but this time the Power Slam is successful and we see Taniguchi build some offense. Big slams, corner strikes and a Chokeslam attempt look good, but Nakajima slips the Chokeslam, and we’re back in Kick City. Nakajima drops Taniguchi after a few kicks, then starts running through him. He starts Punting him in the solar plexus, but as he does it, he looks like a gazelle frolicking in the woods. There’s an evil beauty in how Nakajima delights in this.
— プロレスリング・ノア (@noah_ghc) September 23, 2020
Taniguchi starts fighting back for space, catching Nakajima in a Release Suplex, Nakajima stands back up to strike, but then we see the Ex-Terminator’s unique strike combo. A Forearm Smash and a battering ram style Headbutt; we get a bit of that until Taniguchi starts to take over. The strikes add up, he hits a Chokeslam, 3 of his own Punt Kicks, but Nakajima kicks out. Maybach Press, kick out, Lariat, Kick out, ONE MORE PUNT KICK, and finally Nakajima stays down. In beautiful karma, the move that would’ve probably won Nakajima the match in the beginning (if he didn’t go fetch Taniguchi to be cheeky), was his downfall.
Damn great match and great way to bring the story full circle.
A Block: Manabu Soya vs Kaito Kiyomiya
Both have an uphill battle, Kaito being at 1 point and Soya at 2. This was a struggle of a match and it played out like such. Both men absorbed a lot of punishment and kept fighting. Soya used a lot of power spots including an Avalanche Power Slam, a Bear Hug and Brainbusters galor, but Kaito wouldn’t stay down. In fact, there was a spot for a few minutes where Kaito wouldn’t let go of a Guillotine Choke. Soya rammed him into the corner a few times, hit a Brainbuster, but Kaito didn’t let go. He tried to transition it into a pin, but Soya barely got a shoulder up, and then eventually threw Kaito out of the ring.
Haymakers got thrown from this point, Soya hit a Death Valley Driver and Brainbuster, but only two. Kaito fought back, managed to execute a German Suplex Hold for 2, and then followed that with the Tiger Suplex Hold for the victory!
Solid match to show that both men really needed the win, but not much else of a story beyond that.
9.23 NIGHT Results:
B Block: Naomichi Marufuji vs Kenoh
So these two have some heat. Marufuji being the veteran, nearly living legend status in Japan, irks Kenoh. Kenoh has made Marufuji a target, a measuring stick, just something he’s trying to surpass in most of his time as a member of NOAH. Does he take another step towards cementing his legacy, or does the older veteran still have life?
As can be expected, it starts off a little tenuous, but then we see a multitude of strikes, counter strikes and just nice impact shots. Marufuji gets clever while dodging a Kenoh kick and lays back, then kicking the plant leg to trip up Kenoh. Marufuji gets in some chops, Kenoh rocks him back into the corner with kicks. When Kenoh charges, he dodges all of Marufuji’s combination, Marufuji dodges Kenoh’s Roundhouse counters, until Marufuji hits a Hook Kick, causing Kenoh to throw an Overhead Kick in desperation as both men fall for a bit.
Off the small respite, they both get up swinging, Kenoh flips out of a German Suplex, Marufuji flips out of a Dragon Suplex, then dodges the first kick but gets caught by the Spinning Crane Kick. Kenoh keeps the pressure up, and then goes to the top rope for a Diving Footstomp, but Marufuji moves, blocks the kick and hits the KO-OH to the stomach. With the wind out of Kenoh, Marufuji looks to lock in a Triangle Cobra Clutch, transitioning it to a Key Lock.
Kenoh gets out and the counters continue. Marufuji eats a few kicks, counters the stomp with a cradle, but Kenoh gets out. Hook Kick, KO-OH, Hook Kick, KO-OH, and 5 Hole Kick still are only enough to give Marufuji a near fall. He hunts for a corner KO-OH, but Kenoh dodges and then just jumps on his back. Desperation leads Kenoh to attempting the Rear Naked Choke again, and just like against Taniguchi, he ends up putting Marufuji to sleep.
Fantastic match that felt more like a fighting game between two good players. A few moves slip through, but mostly it’s a game of counter holds, counter strikes and ends with one big surprising finish.
A Block: Kazushi Sakuraba vs Kaito Kiyomiya
Things start off with a little hand shake, and then quickly turn into a Sakuraba kind of match. A few quick kicks and then the match goes to the ground. Kiyomiya does manage to get a small moment where he grabs and ankle while in a body scissors, but it’s mostly all Sakuraba before the early rope break.
Kaito really tempts fate by wrestling Sakuraba’s style of match. Kaito gets cute and goes for the Figure Four early, but Sakuraba blocks most of it and gets his way out. From there on it’s a lot of kicks from Sakuraba, looking for the Sakuraba Lock and Kaito trying to respond in kind. The Figure Four I’m assuming is a reference and reminder of his failure against Muto since that’s how he lost. But Kaito does manage to turn failure and a style he’s not great at, into a victory when he actually forces a tap out!
Unexpected for Sakuraba to lose his kind of match, but shows a lot of growth for Kaito.
B Block: Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Takashi Sugiura
This match starts with flashes of each man’s style. Nakajima powders early after eating a few power attacks, but once he gets the advantage on the outside, numerous kicks and cocky poses takes over for a little. Sugiura, not one to take disrespect, grabs an Ankle Lock as Nakajima is trying his pose for the camera. After the Ankle Lock slows down Nakajima, Sugiura plays his slower power focused kind of match. Including a nicely done delayed Avalanche Brainbuster. Eating the brunt of some submission work, Nakajima retreats to the ropes to try and get some space. A quick Enzuigiri gets him some breathing room and sets Sugiura back on his heels a little.
— プロレスリング・ノア (@noah_ghc) September 23, 2020
Missile Dropkick, Roundhouse Kicks and a Dragon Screw Leg Whip allow Nakajima to keep the foot on the gas a little. A missed PK, gives Sugiura the chance to hit a Release Belly to Belly. This point we get both men throwing a lot at one another. Nakajima manages to hit a Vertical Spike, but Sugiura kicks out. Sugiura attempts the Olympic Slam, but Nakajima slips it and lights up Sugiura. A few closed fist punches (which the referee looked a half second away from DQing him), a Punt Kick and then a hesitation Vertical Spike gives Nakajima the win, and Suigura his first loss of the tournament!
A Block: Go Shiozaki vs Masaaki Mochizuki
Now there seems to be a few of these, but just calling Mochizuki a kicking expert is underselling his ability. Yes he’s known for his kicks, but since he’s had a length of time in Dragon Gate, his style is more Lucha Libre and less of a straight forward striking style. This becomes a large amount of the pacing early on, where Mochi hits a few kicks, Go tries to shrug them off and we trade. Hell there’s a great spot where Go gets sat on the apron, Mochi runs forward and kicks him, causing Go to just slowly get off the apron, stand and stare at him like “Who the hell do you think you are?”.
Go uses his Kobashi styling a bit in this match, with multiple Spinning Back Chops, the Machine Gun Chops in the corner, and the Karate Chop takedown. There’s a nice exchange where Mochi keeps meeting Go’s lariat with a Roundhouse Kick, and it takes three times, but eventually Go’s Lariat proves stronger than the kick. Not giving Go much time to take advantage, Mochi grabs the arm and looks for a Fujiwara Armbar.
— プロレスリング・ノア (@noah_ghc) September 23, 2020
After Go fights off the submission we get more strikes, Chops from Go, Kicks from Mochi; Mochi gets the advantage after a Buzzsaw Kick, Brazilian Kick and a Snapping High Kick drive Go to the corner ropes. Mochi runs to perform his Triangle Kick finish, but a huge desperation Lariat takes Mochi out of his shoes. They both crawl to the center, slowly get up to strike, Go gets a small advantage hitting a few chops, Limit Breaker, the Karate Chop takedown and a Go Flasher, but only a 2 count!
The strikes continue until we see a trade of finishers, Triangle Kick lands which rocks Go, but he falls back into the ropes and charges forward with a Gowan Lariat. As both recover a little, Go looks for another Gowan Lariat, Mochi ducks, follows him to the ropes, Dragon Suplex Hold for the pinfall!
Great use of the fact that Go’s arms and shoulders are taped and have been worked over a lot, so the Dragon Suplex is a fantastic finish.
Overall Score: 8.25 + 8.5 = 8.375/10
Both Nights were fantastic! Not a bad match on any show, the lowest rating being because it was predictable and even the story was more of Kenoh letting Inamura do stuff than Inamura really being a challenge.
With Sugiura losing, it makes everything a much closer situation. No one is undefeated after both of these days and that makes for a great finish to the tournament. It also inadvertently gives Kenoh the lead in B Block after the first day loss to Katsuhiko.
- Kaito Kiyomiya: (2-1-1) – 5 Points
- Go Shiozaki: (2-1) – 4 Points
- Kazushi Sakuraba: (2-2) – 4 Points
- Masaaki Mochizuki: (1-1-1) – 3 Points
- Manabu Soya: (1-2) – 2 Points
- Masa Kitamiya: (1-2) – 2 Points
- Kenoh: (3-1) – 6 Points
- Takashi Sugiura: (2-1-1) – 5 Points
- Katsuhiko Nakajima: (2-1) – 4 Points
- Naomichi Marufuji: (1-1-1) – 3 Points
- Shuhei Taniguchi: (1-2) – 2 Points
- Yoshiki Inamura: (0-3) – 0 Points (Eliminated)